Responsive design refers to a website or a web application designed to adapt to whatever device a user is using. Responsive design gives users the ease of reading and navigation with a minimal of resizing, panning and scrolling, without compromising functionality or design.
Responsive design is not the same as mobile design. Mobile design requires developing an entirely new website or web application with content specifically created for the mobile experience. Responsive design means that the website or web application uses the same URL on all devices, which serves the same content to any device responding to different viewports to provide the best user experience for each device. The different viewports include desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices and their orientations.
As a user switches from their laptop to tablet or mobile device the website or web application should automatically switch and adapt to its screen size, which consists of fluid grids, fluid images, and CSS3 media queries. This eliminates the need for different design and development for each new device on the market.
More than 50% of the world’s population uses mobile devices to access the Internet. This figure is expected to grow to more than 60% in 2018. In the US alone currently the numbers are more than 78% according to comScore Reports. As more clients are requesting their products to be mobile friendly, responsive design is becoming the new norm.
Google took initiative this year and started to penalize websites that are non-mobile sites. On April 21, 2015 Google changed its search algorithm to favor sites that are mobile friendly. In effect, Google will penalize a website’s search rankings if that site is not mobile friendly.
The change is important for Google due to the fact that mobile devices searches are beginning to surpass searches on personal computers. Google is also aiming for more users to start using mobile devices to surf the web instead of using mobile apps, which will lead to more advertising sales for the company.
Responsive design is not a trend any more, it’s a must. Offering users a stunning experience regardless of the device being used, websites or web applications will be able to engage with their users at a higher level. The investment is exceptionally valuable and the cost effectiveness is a clear advantage.
How do you know if your site is mobile friendly? Test your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test site.